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Global Issues Project

When the Global Studies Seniors were away, we were given the opportunity to have our own “mini capestone.” While exploring this project we got to choose whatever topic we wanted to research within the 9 Global Studies themes. And then create a product that displays our research in the form of our choosing. I chose to focus on Global Public Health and create a short story discussing  the crack in Public Healthcare during the Pandemic. Please Enjoy! 

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The Bigger Picture

Mariana Gonzales | Palm Beach County, FL 

Mariana remembered when passing her math test was the only thing she had to worry about. When the biggest sickness that happened during the school year was the stomach bug or the Flu. But looking back, she could barely recall what it was like to have a sniffle without the worry in the back of her mind. The same worry in everyone's minds at every point during every day. Even seeing a neighbor out the window; there was the creeping curiosity if they were among the numbers that appeared each day on the morning news. She remembered when the world shut down, her Mom was at work nearby at the local Stop in Shop warehouse making the money they would use for dinner that week.  Mariana, of course, was at home watching her little brothers with assistance from Abuela and Papi. 

Mariana had lived with her grandparents as long as she could remember. Her best memories had taken place twirling around the kitchen table, with her smiling family egging her on. When the world shut down, Mariana was confused. She never listened to American news or in general watched American television programs. Papi insisted on having only Latin American channels running all day long, really for Abuela, but it would be a lie if he only kept it on for her grandmother, as he got pretty invested when their usual seven o'clock Telanovela came on.  

    This being said, it had come as quite the shock when her Mom came home from work, the exhaustion clear on her face, as she sat down to explain the situation to the family. First in English for Mariana’s little brothers, who were encouraged to learn English for school and then in Spanish for her grandparents. Hearing the news twice did not help the grave reality of the situation sink in. Dinner had been her Abuela’s signature dish, Pozole, the inexpensive brothy stew was something she made often in large quantities. So the family always had something to eat, even when the money had to go to the heating bill instead of the groceries. This being said, the Pozole moved about her stomach like a ship upon rocky waters. Mariana had always heard about historical moments, the Great Depression, and World Wars. But little did she know, she was about to live through one of those things. 

 

Carmella Guerra | Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami FL

In all of her fifteen years of nursing, Carmella Gurerra had never anticipated anything like this. Sure, she was trained to expect the worst and being a Critical Care nurse she had seen quite a few surprises. Maybe she had been desensitized to the gravity of patient’s injuries over the years, jellyfish stings, maybe four per shift, bagel cuts, sure why not, broken arm? No problem. Even growing up Carmella had always had an urge to care for others, her single mother tried her best to take care of Carmella and her three little sisters. But Carmella was always the Mama bird. Making her decision to become a nurse was a no brainer. When the news came that the Corona Virus was spreading fast and steadily throughout the world, Carmella thought she was prepared, after all, the lockdown was only for two weeks. The hospital stocked up on all the supplies they would need and Carmella had prepared as well, bought some extra things for her freezer, maybe a few rolls of paper towels, a couple bags of chips out of impulse. She was all set. She was partly looking forward to the break. She had worked her way up from the small community in Palm Beach County from where she came. And after all, nursing did not provide much rest and she could use a break. 

 

Mariana Gonzales | Palm Beach County, FL 

Days seemed to move slowly now, Mariana awoke at the normal time each day ready to jump onto her Zoom meeting for school. However, lately Mariana could not focus, the sound of her history teacher's voice droning on was just background noise to her overwhelming thoughts. Her Mom had resumed work this week. After the shutdown, things still had to be done. Mariana's mother worked in the Stop in Shop warehouses three miles away from their home, but Mariana could not help but worry. Her family was not rich, nor super poor. They made their way with what they had but always seemed to fall through the cracks. The frozen meals her Abuela had made months prior were running low. Meals had begun to consist of the chicken broth her Abuela froze into ice cubes to use for when someone in the family was sick. Mariana was old enough to understand the situation her family was in. Mariana’s mother did not have stable healthcare. The doctor was something that only Mariana and her brothers saw when they had to before school started, and even then it was a rare occasion. Mariana knew how hard it was since this all began, her mother had to continue going into work throughout the spread, with so many people ordering groceries and with her mother being the only one eligible to work, they needed the money. Mariana tried to help as much as she could, taking care of her little brothers, making sure they got to class and did their homework. Since technology was a foreign concept to Abuela and Papi, especially when it was in English, Mariana took the responsibility on as her own. 

She worried about Abuela and Papi often. They were getting older. Papi had already had heart issues or as it was said in the house “mal funcionamiento con mi corazón.” and neither Abuela nor Papi had the best immune systems. Both faced strong lack of trust towards medical professionals, along with the difficult language barrier, they had grown accustomed to avoiding their ailments and moving on with life. While her stubborn grandparents were okay with this, Mariana was worried about their safety. Even in a true crisis, the nearest medical care center was miles away and the one with the credible doctors was even further. The family could not afford to own a car and depended on public transport which could be unreliable. All of this just deepened Mariana’s anxiety. Without Abuela and Papi, her mother would be all alone and would have no help to take care of Mariana and her brothers. Even though she tried to help, Mariana knew she was not nearly as effective as she wished. Without Abuela and Papi, things would only get worse. Mariana often wished that when she went to bed at night, she would wake up and it would all be some awful sort of nightmare and everything would be normal. But Mariana knew she was all too old for such childish thoughts. Even though this was real life, it had become to feel like the constant nightmares she feared. 

Carmella Guerra | Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami FL

    Carmella thought she was getting a break, after the dust settled and the pandemic steadily continued. A quiet hush fell across the hospital, the parking lots grew eerie. It was as if the entire world had been suspended in silence. With everyone scared, no one wanted to leave the house, especially not to come to a hospital which, even though it appeared to be the safest, had a bad reputation these days. This lasted a couple months, but now things were changing. Carmella was a firm believer in bad things happening in threes, first the pandemic, the silence, and now the flood. The hospital was so busy now Carmella never caught a break. No one did. Everyone was overworked and more and more patients came in each day, Carmella felt as if her work was now contained in the plastic bubbles placed up in every free space. The hospital was so flooded with people, those who weren't in critical care or in desperate need of attention, were set up in overflow beds in hallways. And the people who needed to quarantine had to be transferred to the local hotel nearby for more space.

 The hospital just could not seem to keep up, but within this Carmella realized that all the people who walked through the door seemed to be willing and able to pay the pretty penny. It made her realize how much different it was. She could remember growing up and going through nursing  school wondering why no one in her family walked through the sliding doors of the hospitals she worked in. Or why the homeless people always seemed to linger outside the door but never came in. Now Carmella realized why. They might not have been afraid so much of getting sick, but the large bill that came with them being able to stay alive. Carmella worried about what her situation would have been as a teenager in this situation, scared for her family's safety while also having no power to control it. Carmella worked hard to make her way to where she was, but she would always care for where she came from, for the people who were often overlooked, her people. And even though she had worked hard to make a better life for herself, she knew she had no say in the matter. She knew that in this situation, science would not help her but instead only hope. 

Mariana Gonzales | Palm Beach County, FL 

Mariana awoke to the sunlight streaming through her bedroom window. Looking across she could see the empty side of the bed where her mother usually slept. The house they had in the affordable housing community they live in was small. So she had to share a bedroom with her mother for as long as she could remember and sometimes her little brothers would join them when they were scared, or when Papi’s snoring was too loud from the other room. Mariana knew her mother was already at work as the clock read six thirty in the morning. This was earlier than her mother’s usual shifts. Mariana had been worrying about her mother. Recently she has been working more and more to keep up with the bills. Without Mariana and her brothers going to school, more money had to go to the food budget. Along with this, work in the warehouse was labor intensive and Mariana’s mother had been struggling with her back for years. Much like the rest of her family, her mother shared the same negative mindset for doctors. Mariana knew things would have to get better at some point. She saw what was happening in other countries and with the stricter rules, she was sure it would have to change for the better around her soon. And with her mother working so much, she was at risk of possibly infecting her grandparents. She was feeling a bit uneasy. Mariana knew it was just her mindset but it was a hard thing to shake. Especially with her and her brothers starting back in school soon, she could only hope that in the future, the government would not focus on only those who appeared in the big picture. Hopefully they will also take a look at the minor details, the details that make the world run. The details that are equally important without which, the big picture would not even look remotely the same. 

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